Sidney, Nebraska: Population = 6,287, elevation = 4,308 feet, average January low temp = 10.9, Average July high temp = 88, average sunny days = 229, annual snowfall = 41.3”, annual rainfall = 18.8”, air quality index = 97, water quality index = 40, comfort index = 40
From Cheyenne, our route leads us into Sidney, Nebraska. We are past the Rockies and the land is becoming flatter, more covered with grass and crops. Occasional pine studded hills and ridges pop up here and there. I keep insisting that the scenery is flat and boring and Marylu, who was born and raised in Sidney, keeps pointing out the hills and bluffs and rocky outcrops.
In Sidney we are staying with Clint and Diane, Marylu’s brother and his wife. This used to be Marylu’s parent’s house so it was build to accommodate the parents and 8 children. The house is large and comfortable and has a swimming pool outside. Clint has just retired so the next day he and Diane are heading off to Omaha, where they are picking up an RV and continuing on to Vermont for a well-deserved vacation.
We have a mission in Sidney. In August there is going to be the 50th class reunion for St. Patricks high school. Jan from Cheyenne and Marylu have been planning a scavenger hunt for their classmates. We are scouting the sites. “Remember the old Five and Dime? OK, it is something else now, but the building is still there. Take a selfie in from of it and text it back to the Hunt Master.“ At least that is the plan.
My mission is to see everything on the Trip Advisor list of things to see in Sidney. There are 5 things. Have a classic burger at the Silver Dollar, and the tour is complete. The week is hot and steamy so most of our time is spent just hanging out around the pool with Marylu’s sisters, niece, nephew and wife and babies. Throw in some beer and BBQ and it makes for a nice relaxing visit. Many thanks to Clint and Diane for graciously letting us use their home.
Hot Springs, SD Population = 3971, elevation = 3,504, average January low temp = 11.1, Average July high temp = 89, average sunny days = 229, annual snowfall = 35.1”, annual rainfall = 17.2”, air quality index = 99, water quality index = 40, comfort index = 59
The road to Hot Springs runs through more of a variety of scenery. Lots of flat farmland, speckled with cattle or blanketed by wheat or corn. There are distant ranges of high hills, growing darker as we approach South Dakota. There are areas where the ground is tossed up in mounds, as if there were gigantic gophers at work out there. The prairie rolls on, mile after mile, to the far away horizon. But wait, what is that over there? Stonehenge? No, it is Carhenge! A student of the original stone circle duplicated it with vintage cars, spray painted grey.
Hot Springs looks like it could be an interesting little town. The historic old buildings downtown are built of the same limestone that graces the cliffs nearby. A little river gurgles through the heart of the town. Big hills surround it, covered in dark pines, with outcroppings of dark granite poking through. Our time is limited but we do manage to take in the Mammoth Site. Roughly 26,000 years ago, a huge sinkhole opened up then filled with water. When mammoths and other animals came to drink they fell in and could not escape so their bones became part of the jumble of bones at the bottom. The site is unique in that it is a working archeological dig. The building covers a solid block of limestone that they are slowly chipping the fossils out of.
Pierre, SD Population = 14,115, elevation = 1,728, average January low temp = 6.1, Average July high temp = 89, average sunny days = 217, annual snowfall = 31.6”, annual rainfall = 18.8”, air quality index = 97, water quality index = 33, comfort index = 39
The road to Pierre is really boring. If you love the wide open, mostly flat landscape here, more power to you, but I am not impressed. Good place to raise cattle but not a fun or interesting drive. Pierre is the second smallest capitol city in the USA, following tiny Montpelier, Vermont. The capitol building is beautifully decorated with murals, marble, and terrazzo tiles. The exterior dome is clad in copper that has aged and weathered to almost black.
Next up: Sioux Falls, SD